'Victory for people power’ as polling station in Calshot is saved

Andrew Pope with local residents campaigning to save the polling station at the St George’s Centre in Calshot.

Andrew Pope with local residents campaigning to save the polling station at the St George’s Centre in Calshot.

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter, New Forest

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating today after it was revealed that controversial plans to axe a Hampshire polling station are set to be scrapped.

Civic chiefs have admitted that district councillors did not know the full facts when they approved a proposal to prevent people from voting at the St George’s Centre in Tristan Close, Calshot.

Members were not told that control of the centre had recently reverted to the authority.

Council bosses say the new development means problems associated with it being used as a polling station in the past are now no longer likely to occur.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the decision to close the voting facility was taken by the general purposes and licensing committee last month.

Officers said the councilowned hall was leased to a community organisation and claimed the authority had experienced difficulties in booking and gaining access to the building.

The committee agreed to urge the next full meeting of the council on Monday to stop using the building as a polling station.

But the plan is set to be ditched after new information came to light.

A council spokesman said: “Day-to-day control of the premises has recently reverted to the council, which members were not aware of at the time as the relevant information was not passed on.

“The full council will now be recommended to keep the polling station open.”

The committee chairman, Councillor Goff Beck, added: “The district council, working in partnership with Fawley Parish Council, will be responsible for the hall, and the anomalies seen in the past will be rectified.”

Those celebrating the authority’s U-turn include Southampton councillor Andrew Pope, who is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for N e w Forest East in next year’s General Election.

Cllr Pope launched a campaign to save the polling station after plans to close it were revealed last month.

He complained that Calshot residents would be forced to drive or walk or to a polling station in Fawley and accused the Tory-run council of interfering with people’s democratic right to vote.

Last night Cllr Pope described the authority’s U-turn as a victory for people power.

He said: “The council has given an unsatisfactory reason for the Tories’ spectacular about-face, saying it did not know it was responsible for St George’s.

“Labour and local residents know that public opposition to the council’s plans was the real reason behind the authority’s about-face.”

But two other polling stations at Bisterne and Thorney Hill are still under threat of closure following a review of voting facilities across the district.

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